Cognitive behavioral treatment centers in California

News stories documenting California’s correctional challenges are prominent today. The California correctional system is the largest in the United States. Its prisons have been operating well above their intended design capacity for years. California has one of the highest recidivism rates in the country, mainly due to technical parole violations. At the same time, California’s correctional costs have reached to more than $9 billion. In response to severe prison overcrowding, high recidivism, and growing costs, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), in conjunction with the Division of Adult Parole Operations, developed a plan for increasing community-based cognitive behavioral treatment services for parolees. CDCR selected BI to establish and operate three intensive Cognitive Behavioral Treatment Centers for parolees in Compton, San Diego and Stockton. These centers serve high-risk offenders who are treatment resistant, or who have violated parole before, causing them to cycle in and out of California’s correctional system. These centers are hubs of supervision, treatment, vocational and educational training for parolees in the community.

Parolees enrolled in California’s Cognitive Behavioral Treatment Centers progress through multiple phases. Initially, reporting requirements are stringent and participants begin treatment planning and skills classes based on their assessed risks and needs. For each person, a Behavior Change Plan is designed. As participants progress through each phase, reporting requirements are incrementally decreased. At the same time, treatment and cognitive- behavioral skill building are increased. All participants are required to receive a minimum of 20 hours a week of services in the initial phases of their commitment to the program. Services include education classes, support groups and treatment. By the time participants enter into the latter stages of programming, they are required to be employed or involved in an educational program. This improves stability within the community and reduces the risk of relapse and reoffending. The final phase consists of aftercare programming that includes weekly reporting requirements and relapse prevention meetings and monthly drug testing. Participants must also complete community service hours before completing the program, further strengthening ties to the community.

These centers emphasize rewarding and reinforcing positive behavior, but also act swiftly to address negative or defiant behaviors from parolees. BI’s staff uses motivational interviewing techniques to closely track the attitudes, moods, behaviors and ultimate progress of their clients. These techniques motivate parolees to change their criminal thinking and behavior, better preparing them for coping as productive citizens in the communities they will return to. Each day, several hundred parolees go to one of these three BI Cognitive Behavioral Treatment Centers.

Matt Moore is the Western Regional Reentry & Supervision Services Manager for BI Incorporated. He can be reached at 559-515-6967.